Sunday 9 November 2014

Arctic Trail Trip Report Part 2

Part 1 covered the Nordkalottleden section of my Arctic hike and this covers the remaining 412km to Trofors. The original plan was for me to continue along the Nordkalottleden Trail to it’s Swedish finish point at Kvikkjokk. There I would resupply at the STF hostel and pickup the Kungsleden Trail south to its terminus at Hemavan. From Hemavan I would make my own way to Trofors in Norway where I would catch a train south to Oslo. A week or 2 before setting off Mark Waring contacted me and suggested a different route that he had taken previously that would be much quieter and also easier logistically. The Kungsleden south from Kvikkjokk isn't hiked as much as the more popular northern section and has a number of lakes that need to crossed by boats. There are motor boats available to do this but it can mean waiting until one arrives and Mark warned that much time could be wasted like this. His alternative route only had one boat crossing and as I’m heading south you walk right through Mavas, where then boat is based, so it should be less hassle. Mark also said that I would be unlikely to see another hiker on his 10 day section, he was right!

I would join Marks route near Pieskehaurestugan and that meant making my own way from Sulitjelma, where I had stopped to resupply. You have 2 options here, you could retrace your steps and continue along the Nordkalottleden, which takes you a very long way to Pieskehaurestugan, or do what I did and take the path on the south side of Lamivatnet and Muotkejavrre and join there. I recommend the latter as that was a spectacular hike once past the hydro works, and Muotkejavrre provided the best camp spot of the entire hike. This section is well traveled and there is a nice hut (Muotkehytta) at the end of Muotkejavrre if that is your thing. 

Lamivatnet hydro works
Lamivatnet partially drained for the works
Good clear trail on the south side of the lake
Joining Marks route near Pieskehaurestugan
Best camp of the entire hike by Muotkejavrre
From there you take a reasonable path down to Mavas where you catch a very fast boat (runs on demand, 300SEK) across Lake Mavasjaure. Mavas also offers basic accommodation should you need it. 

Trail south to Mavas
Passes a number of small scenic lakes

Once across the lake it’s another reasonable path past Lkesjaure, and onto a junction just before Jurun. From Jurun the path is much less travelled and often overgrown with trees/bush. The route was always passable but isn't always obvious or marked.  There are bridges over any rivers and these at least tell you that you are on the trail.

Mavasjaure camp looking towards Mavas
Looking back to Mavasjaure

Junction at Jurun, this next section isn't travelled often
Overgrown but always passable
there isn't much sign of the trail
but bridges at least tell you that this is the right way

that faded pink patch is a trail marker
as is this pink rock
but just keep following the river down the valley
camp by some unnamed lake where I saw the largest moose I've ever seen
The nearer you get to Vuoggatjalme the easier the route becomes and Vuoggatjalme has accommodation and a restaurant if you fancy a break. It is also here that you finally pass out of the Arctic Circle. Up until this point on Marks route the weather had been excellent but strong winds and rain were forecast for the next week and that proved to be the case. The hike to Laisstugan was fairly easy and obvious but not pleasant given the windblown heavy rain over the exposed pass. The hut there is good but some areas are locked (as are many huts) but the open section was large and had a wood burning stove. It would have been a good place to spend the night but I wanted to push on a few more km because of the winds forecast for the following day. 

weather changed before Vuoggatjalme
but the trail became more used
and down came the rain
the section to Laisstugan is exposed
and it was wet and windy all day
This next section is over high and exposed ground and camping there in these conditions would likely be an issue. My plan was to find a sheltered spot near the shelter at Forfallen tonight and then cross right over the exposed section and camp down in the valley at Vindelkroken the following night, a distance of around 25km. The route out off Laisstugan soon became indistinct and when I got to the river at Alddajuhka I found out why, the bridge had been washed away sometime ago and given the heavy rain was now uncrossable. A new plan was formed that would see me camping here overnight and then either try and cross in the morning, if the river dropped, or make my own way over the tops by following the river to it’s source, passing by Tsaggiekjaevrieh, before rejoining my planned route just west of Sarviesjavrie and then down to Vindelkroken. As the river only continued to rise this is what I did, the route was fine, trackless but as you are following a valley it was always obvious. I certainly wasn't the first person to come this way though I saw nobody other than footprints. Strangely I did pick-up some trail markers at Tsaggiekjaevrieh that are not marked on the map and as they were very faint and in-frequent I soon lost them again. The section down to Vindelkroken is in trees/bush and is littered with tracks, in all directions, so it’s hard to know which to follow. With a little effort Vindelkroken was reached and as this was autumn I camped outside the empty village (most sami villages are deserted at this time of year). 

near the source of one of the feeder streams that caused me to change my plans (easily crossable up here)
same stream looking back
near Tsaggiekjaevrieh between rain showers
The trail from here to Dalavardo is very obvious, and well traveled, and I would expect it to remain that way down to where it joins up with the Kungsleden at Tarnasjostugorna. I had a few spare days so decided to leave Marks route and head east to rejoin the Kungsleden at Ravfallsstugan. Again this was an easy route and would add 2 days to my hike. Following the river Vindelalven there are many huts here which I assume are for the fisherman as I saw no hikers, 3 or 4 new huts have been built that weren’t marked on my map. 

where I left Marks route and headed east
down the valley to Ravfallsstugan
At Ravfallsstugan you are back on the Kungsleden so the way is obvious and on good quality trail. There are also the facilities that go with the Kungsleden which include staffed huts that often sell supplies. You pass through the small town of Ammarnas that has a hotel, hostel and shop/cafe. The shop closed at 15:00 on Saturday  and as it was 15:30 I didn't hang around. The section of Kungsleden from Ravfallsstugan to Hemavan is good and a nice step-up scenically from what I did on Marks route from Jurun. It’s difficult to say which route would be best but if you want quiet time alone, and a bigger challenge, then take Marks route but if you are more interested in the scenery then the Kungsleden may be the better option. Of course the wet weather of the last few days meant I didn't always see Mark's route at it's best.

autumn colours on the Kungsleden
boards across the worst bogs
careful not to stand on any wildlife taking a break
Kungsleden is always well marked
autumn is great time to be on this trail

Syterstugan STF hut/hostel
final camp before Hemavan by Norra Storfjallet
was a good one
same spot but the next morning
the end/start of the Kungsleden in Hemavan
Hemavan is a full service town with a supermarket, hotels and hostels. I stayed in the STF Hostel and it was very basic, and run down, though there appeared to be some modernisation taking place. It had the look and feel of an old military base and as it’s right next to the airport I think it probably was. From there I road walked to Trofors (3 days) because I had the time but with a little effort it is possible to get a bus at least most of the way. I did plan an off-road route to Trofors but I knew that it be cross country hiking over very wet and boggy ground. With no option to get clean before a 17 hr train journey, followed by meeting relatives I hadn't seen for many years, stinking of rotting bogs and covered in mud probably wasn't a good idea.

looks like rain! (amazingly it didn't)
camp at Ovre Jovattnet
quiet road walk into Norway
passed this sculpture

final camp just outside the village of Trofors (notice the bridge)
close up of the bridge!
Trofors train station